I’ll be the first to admit that maintaining your joy is not easy when life’s disappointments, tests and trials beat up against you. A part of you wants to go into isolation, be angry, depressed, and sad, but God doesn’t want us to go into those dark emotions.
Instead, He wants us to renew our focus and trust Him for the overall outcome when we face hardships in life.
Most of us know that “joy” is one of the fruits of the Spirit, and it’s defined as a very glad feeling, a shout, triumph, cheerful, and a calm delight. I like that last definition – a calm delight. Because that’s what we need when we’re going through difficult and trying times. Now, what it doesn’t mean is that you’ll be smiling ear-to-ear or laughing when you hit a hard place in your life. Not at all. It just means that your mindset has to shift into a new gear.
In other words, a gear of having a better attitude and being thankful that no matter what, God is still faithful, sovereign, and loving. He is working things out for our good. It’s also about keeping our eyes on Jesus. Hebrews 12:2 says, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising its shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
I would say endurance is a highlighting factor, here. Think about it. Without it, Jesus could have jumped off the cross and said, “I can’t do this. It hurts too bad! Father, I don’t know where you are. I’m done.” But instead, He endured the hardship. He didn’t give up. He didn’t allow the trial of His life to sidestep God’s plan for salvation. He focused on the purpose and the joy that awaited Him. He endured it and then it was finished. And thank God He pressed through the pain – for us.
I want to take a minute to share with you a few practical things that you can do to find joy in the midst of hardship…
- Pray (cry, talk to God about what you’re going through – He’s listening)
- Renew your mind (change your attitude – try to think about good things and what God could be doing through it)
- Put on a pot of coffee or tea and read on joy, getting through trials, let God minister to you through His Word regarding your particular situation, and journal what’s happening (pen your thoughts, prayers, and verses)
Scripture tells us to count it all joy when we fall into divers temptations (meaning various trials). That’s what the King James Version of James 1:2-4 says. Again, this doesn’t mean that you have to go around faking happiness. Because when hard things hit, it does hurt and sometimes you do have to cry, and sometimes you do wonder where is God in all of it. We are human.
But what God is saying through this verse is that He wants us to see the bigger picture. He’s doing something greater – even though we can’t see it. And that is where the joy comes from.